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TOPIC: External HDD for editing- Desktop or Portable?

External HDD for editing- Desktop or Portable? 24 Oct 2018 06:15 #97503

  • tomasawyer
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Hi all,

I apologise if there is an answer already - I haven't found one.

I am editing in FCP X and am currently using a Desktop WD 4TB HDD for editing. Majority of my footage is in 4K but the HDD rarely has problems playing the 4K playback. Rarely I need to optimise footage. I do have another same desktop HDD for back-up purposes only (not used for editing)

I want to purchase another one (third one) to triple my safety net of back-ups (recently some other older HDD's died) and I was wondering if I should go for Desktop or Portable.

Is there any difference between the two in terms of editing a heavy 4K workload? Portable would be preferable so I could take it to other meetings/locations and edit on the go, but I would not want to purchase if there is a disadvantage in writing/reading speed, slower RPM or anything else that might make it disadvantageous over the desktop one.

Kind regards
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External HDD for editing- Desktop or Portable? 24 Oct 2018 09:42 #97505

I did a little research and found out that the LaCie Rugged RAID 4TB might be the best solution for you. 7200RPM RAID portable HDD, it combines the portability and the performance of both desktop and portable HDD. As for a backup solution, what I do is having one main fast hard drive where I do the editing on and a pair of small portable hard drives where I store the material as a backup.
Hope this helps.
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External HDD for editing- Desktop or Portable? 24 Oct 2018 12:03 #97510

  • joema
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ektoras.papageorgiou wrote:
I did a little research and found out that the LaCie Rugged RAID 4TB might be the best solution for you....

I have many of those and can confirm it's probably the best current bus-powered rotating portable drive where (1) High performance is required and (2) SSD is too expensive. Internally it's RAID-0 so it does about 220 MB/sec. There is a newer version that is USB-C but it's single-spindle, so isn't as fast.

If you don't need 4TB and can spend about $480 for 2TB, the Samsung T5 2TB SSD is listed at $477 at B&H: www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1346578-R...tb_portable_ssd.html

In general I don't like to edit large 4k projects (without proxies) on a single-spindle bus-powered portable drive. It can be done but there are phases involving many small random I/O (thumbnail generation, SQL Lite database calls, etc). Once proxies are generated, and thumbnails and waveforms built, proxy-only 4k editing can be adequately fast on a single-spindle bus-powered portable drive.

However I prefer having a single pool of portable hard drives which can be flexibly used in various situations, not just for proxy-only editing. In general AC-powered 7200 rpm drives have better performance (than similar bus-powered drives) but are more cumbersome in a mobile situation. However the above Lacie drive is as fast (or faster) than single-spindle AC-powered drives. It is RAID-0 so in theory this degrades reliability but so far I've never had one fail.

I have about 15 of the similar 4TB Seagate Backup Plus Fast drives, which are also RAID-0 and have about the same performance. Unfortunately they are out of production. I've had one of those fail: a.co/d/3Ugoe8y
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External HDD for editing- Desktop or Portable? 24 Oct 2018 12:49 #97514

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Thank you for the recommendations.

Couple of questions:

1) If I would go to purchase the LaCie - and let's say i currently sit somewhere around 2.5TB of video footage that I need to keep / and back up - would you use that LaCie for storage purposes AS WELL as for editing? Or would you solely use it for editing and once the project is finished - store it and back up on two or three additional desktop HDDs

2) Is it bad to feel that I would rather buy tow or three desktop/portable HDDs instead of one LaCie for the same price? If I am trying to be cheap - please tell me - but I thought I that would be more of a practical solution?

also in long run/long term - would a RAID array with 4 drives be more beneficial? if so could someone please explain to me how that works and why is it really worth it - as I do not understand it 100%.

Kind regards
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External HDD for editing- Desktop or Portable? 24 Oct 2018 13:44 #97515

  • joema
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tomasawyer wrote:
... would you use that LaCie for storage purposes AS WELL as for editing? Or would you solely use it for editing and once the project is finished - store it and back up on two or three additional desktop HDDs...

My team uses them just for data offloading in the field and distributing proxy-only media and libraries to downstream editors. In theory you could also use them for *one* of your backups plus data offloading but with 4k you run out of space quickly. Also a rotational drive really needs at least 25% to 33% free space for best performance, so you can't use all 4TB.

The only reason we use the 4TB Lacie is the 2TB Samsung SSD just isn't big enough, plus we must have two for immediate data duplication in the field. Even an SSD can fail and they should all be backed up.

tomasawyer wrote:
...Is it bad to feel that I would rather buy tow or three desktop/portable HDDs instead of one LaCie for the same price? If I am trying to be cheap - please tell me - but I thought I that would be more of a practical solution?...

You can do that and it can work. It depends on what codec, resolution, how much data, etc. In our case it takes our Data Wrangler hours to offload and duplicate the data -- even with the 220 MB/sec Lacie. A single spindle drive is just too slow for us. We also have several downstream editors and assistants who need the data, and the Lacie is fast enough to edit on, plus can be used for data interchange.

This 4TB WD My Passport Ultra is single-spindle but it's pretty fast for a USB bus-powered drive: a.co/d/3A882iV

tomasawyer wrote:
....also in long run/long term - would a RAID array with 4 drives be more beneficial? if so could someone please explain to me how that works and why is it really worth it - as I do not understand it 100%...

A 4-drive RAID array can be unwieldy to handle for on-the-go field editing, but for certain phases and types of editing, a it can be beneficial. It is very fast and can store lots of data economically (vs a similar-size SSD). For larger scale post production involving several RAID arrays, the Thunderbolt interface is very reliable and facilitates reconfiguring "strings" of arrays -- you can daisy-chain several of them, plus a longer Thunderbolt cable allows connecting a RAID array to a Mac 10 feet away (for copper Thunderbolt 2 cables). Passive Thunderbolt 3 cables are up to 6 ft at 20 Gbps. Optical Thunderbolt cables go much further but they're very expensive.

In a partitioned post production workflow where an Asst. Editor handles the ingest, A/V sync, and proxy generation, his drive and computer must be fast. But if downstream editors use proxy only, they don't need a super-fast drive. OTOH if they are editing original resolution 4k ProRes, the drive must be very fast -- ProRes 422 is about 6x the size (and 6x the I/O bandwidth) of 4k H264. So there are many variables.

This is why the Black Magic disk benchmark has various categories at the bottom showing amount of I/O bandwidth needed for certain codecs and resolutions: itunes.apple.com/us/app/blackmagic-disk-...st/id425264550?mt=12
Last Edit: 24 Oct 2018 13:45 by joema.
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